Today is Day Six of Ohio's firearms deer hunting season and it turned out largely to fire blanks.
For eight eager hunters who shared breakfast together along with hopeful anticipation the plot of ground along the Grand River in Ashtabula County fueled our communal desire to score on some more venison.
Yet even before we started our first drive of the morning we sensed that something was amiss. We had seen few other hunters as we left the Rock Creek diner and headed south to our destination.
Worse, absent was the sound of much distant gunfire, a foreboding that would toss an anchor line around our efforts as well.
Drives that normally squirted out multiple numbers of deer yielded nothing, though the cover was still excellent and the history of the place spoke of success.
The best we could do today would be to bump a trio of does; the animals and us play hop-scotch from one wooden draw to the next logged-off ravine as they snaked along the Grand River.
Clearly we were growing frustrated and disappointed. Last year this chunk of Ashtabula County real estate held an abundance of deer. And even though we didn't kill them all we sure did help keep the ammunition companies in business.
Today we could have gone gun-less and done just as well. Only one of our party of eight even came close to killing a deer - and that was unloading three rounds in a Hail Mary attempt at a fleeing doe.
After a short lunch break we were all primed for the best of the day. It was here last year where our same party had bagged three deer and missed a bunch more. Deer were squirting out everywhere.
Not this time. Only a lone, rather pale-looking red fox was pushed out ahead of the walkers and toward the four standers.
It was a very disappointing end to a frustrating week of gun hunting. In four days of effort (either the whole day or a partial day) I had seen just one buck and one doe.
I know the Ohio Division of Wildlife is trying to reduce the state's deer herd but I am hoping their objectives are being too liberal.
We will know by Monday afternoon whether the rest of Ohio's corps of 425,000 or so gun hunters were similarly perplexed at the lack of deer.
But our party will try again during the up-coming two-day bonus season along with the four-day muzzle-loading season.
Hopefully what we saw today was just a fluke.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn